PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not on Groundhog Day, one thing's for sure: The man who has been the furry forecaster's official handler for the past 15 years will step down after this year.
Bill Deeley, 56, said he doesn't have the energy or the time. Part of the job includes taking Phil to parades and special events.
"I could stay in forever, but even the Pony Express changed horses," Deeley said.
Deeley joined the Inner Circle — the top-hat- and tuxedo-wearing men responsible for carrying on the tradition — in 1986.
In the years since The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper first carried word of the groundhog's failing to see its shadow in 1886, this town of 7,500 people about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh has been dubbed the "Weather Capital of the World" because of the groundhog tradition.
The ritual stems from the belief that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If there's no shadow, spring will come early.